secret is the fourth album released by Koda Kumi. While she had already had hit songs in the past, this was her first album to really showcase her breakthrough success, much of it due to the more erotic image that she was portraying. The album charted at #3 on the charts, but sold well over 520,000 copies, which was more than her first three albums combined. Four singles were released before the album, while one was released later. All except one single charted within the top ten.
Released: February 9, 2005
1. Intro ~Get Down~
2. Cutie Honey (キューティーハニー)
3. Hot Stuff
7. SHAKE IT
8. Kiseki (奇跡; Miracle)
9. Trust you
11. LOVE HOLIC
13. Let’s party
15. Through the sky
(P.S. Not including the special bonus tracks)
secret opens with an intro. Intro ~Get Down~ a bit of an odd intro with its sexier R&B sound, rapping and moaning. It definitely represents Koda Kumi’s image at the time, although I find it a tad annoying with the “Get down, get down” hook.
Luckily, the oldest single comes flying in right away. Cutie Honey was the album’s biggest hit and one of Koda’s most recognizable hits. It’s a disco-inspired pop tune that makes use of flashing synths and bouncy beat. It definitely fits its name as it has some cuter aspects to the vocal performance. The chorus sort of zooms by, but it is still insanely catchy. There are a few odd parts, especially in the instrumental break near the end, but it makes it up with pure bliss and fun.
Hot Stuff changes the sound up with its heavy hip-hop/R&B influences. The song features a rapper as well, but those parts don’t really interest me that much and I find KM MARKIT to be the weaker parts of the song. The parts that Koda sings are pretty catchy and I like the attitude she brings. The chorus is definitely the highlight, but I think it would have been better without the rapper breaking up the singing parts. Not sure why it was picked as the re-cut single though.
While it wasn’t originally on a standard single, Selfish was already released on a special DVD single prior to the album’s release. This song does an interesting blend of R&B and rock. The music is definitely much stronger with its heavy guitar riffs and percussion, but this is a prime example of my usual problem with Koda’s rock songs. There always feels like a disconnect between the music and the melody. The song is catchy, but I feel like the chorus would be better if the rock elements were toned down a bit and something else replaced it. It’s still another solid song though as that melody is great.
hands is the album’s fourth single and my favourite Koda Kumi song. It’s a light pop/R&B ballad and it’s one of Koda more emotional deliveries. The song reminds me a bit of “1000 no Kotoba”, but with an R&B beat. The verses are pretty, but it’s when that beat really kicks in for the chorus does the song start to get moving. The melody is really catchy and I like that Koda changes up her voice a bit with some falsetto. She does a great job of getting the right emotion here and her raspy voice powers the song.
Hearty… continues the light R&B sound but changes things up with something a bit brighter. Unfortunately, this is probably my least favourite of the songs up to this point. The melody is just lacking and it feels all over the place. It’s quite cute and I do like the energy that it is trying to emit, but I feel like a more streamlined melody would have been much better.
The next song was also included on the special DVD release and is a bit controversial for its overtly sexual music video. I mean, it’s a bit unfortunate because SHAKE IT is a total jam. The song goes the sexy R&B sound but tries to bring some Middle Eastern elements into the music by the way of synths. It’s subtle, but it does help bring some character to the song. The chorus is especially catchy and it’s one of the most entertaining songs on the album with its silly lyrics. The only thing that is quite weird is the breakdown before the final chorus.
It’s a bit odd to transition into the album’s third single, another light R&B/pop song. Kiseki is one of my favourites from Koda. The verses are really soothing and Koda’s voice is quite beautiful here. It’s a bit more generic in its music with the bright synths, but I feel like the chorus is catchy and the melody works wonderfully with the songs lighter sound. It’s also one of Koda’s best vocal performances.
Bringing us back to the upbeat R&B/hip-hop sound, we have Trust you. These kind of songs can be a hit or miss with Koda, but I do like this one a lot. The melody is really catchy and I feel like its more streamlined approach helps it despite the fact the music is lacking a bit. Still a pretty solid album tracks.
Chase hasn’t really been one of the songs I’ve listened to that often, but it is a pretty catchy pop song. It has some some funky elements to it that help it to stand out and it is a fun song. I feel like it gets a bit forgotten because it’s more on generic side of things with its straightforward pop sound. Still, it’s another really solid song and it is no surprise it was a single as well.
Right after comes the B-side from “Kiseki”. LOVE HOLIC is another straightlaced pop song, although this time we trade the funky elements for a touch of rock. I feel like it’s a good follow-up to the last song and it’s one of the transitions that work well on here. However, this song just doesn’t do it for me. The energy is great and I like its summery vibe, but the melody is just forgettable.
24 was the last song included on the DVD single. Yet another light R&B ballad, this one has some neo-soul elements to it that I really love. The verses are especially charming and I love its slower, lazy-Sunday kind of vibe. Unfortunately, the chorus isn’t quite as soothing. I like what its trying to do, but the execution is a bit lacking as the mix of background vocals and Koda’s riffs and runs are quite messy. It’s cute, but not quite there.
I would say Let’s Party is one of my favourite of the upbeat songs. I’m actually really surprised that I like it that much. The song is R&B, but on the brighter side of things and has a similar sound to songs from her first album. It’s like an updated version of that funky pop/R&B style and I’m totally living for it. It’s just plain catchy.
This album has quite a few ballads, but Believe doesn’t bring another R&B tune and instead brings a beautiful acoustic pop ballad. The chorus is a bit messy in terms of vocal performance, but there’s something charming to how emotional Koda sounds. I would say this is the most emotional song on the album and she really brings it here.
Through the sky was released as the B-side to the “hands” single and it’s another ballad, although this time we have a pretty straightforward piano one. It’s a pretty nice song, but I think it takes some time to sink in. It’s a bit generic in sound for Koda as she’s done many like these, however, this is one of the better ones since the melody is quite nice. It can get a little messy vocally at times, but Koda Kumi still works it.
Overall: This was a great album and easily one of Koda Kumi’s strongest. The songs were much stronger this time and while the singles were once again the highlight, there was still a good number of solid album tracks. I do wish the album had a little more cohesion to it because it bounces around a lot, but the individual songs were good. I think there were a few duds that could have been left out, but they don’t detract from the album too much.